Royal Delta

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Royal Delta
Sire Empire Maker
Grandsire Unbridled
Dam Delta Princess
Damsire A P Indy
Sex Mare
Foaled 2008
Country United States
Colour Bay
Breeder Palides Investments N.V., Inc.
Owner Besilu Stables
Trainer Bill Mott
Record 21: 12-5-1
Earnings $4,691,126
Major wins

Black-Eyed Susan Stakes (2011)
Alabama Stakes (2011)
Fleur de Lis Handicap (2012)
Delaware Handicap (2012, 2013)
Beldame Stakes (2012)
Sabin Stakes (2013)
Personal Ensign Handicap (2013)

Classic & Breeders' Cup
Breeders' Cup Ladies' Classic (2011, 2012)
American Champion Three-Year-Old Filly (2011)
American Champion Older Female Horse (2012, 2013)
Last updated on November 4, 2011

Royal Delta (foaled February 2, 2008 in Kentucky) is an American Thoroughbred racehorse. The daughter of Empire Maker is best known for winning back-to-back editions of the Breeders' Cup Ladies Classic, and back-to-back divisional titles (American Champion Three-Year-Old Filly, 2011, and American Champion Older Female Horse, 2012. She has won the Grade I Alabama Stakes, Black-Eyed Susan Stakes, Beldame Stakes, and Delaware Handicap in addition to her Breeders' Cup triumphs.

Early racing career[edit]

Trained by Bill Mott, Royal Delta won by 12 lengths in her debut as a two-year-old in a one-mile maiden special weight race on October 30, 2010, at Belmont Park. She then finished off the board at ninth in the Suncoast Stakes race at Tampa Bay Downs. In her third career start, she raced at Keeneland Race Course and won an allowance race on the synthetic. Her connections decided to enter her in the second jewel of America's de facto Filly Triple Crown, the Black-eyed Susan Stakes.

Royal Delta was the third choice at 3-1 on the morning line in a strong field of six stakes winners, but she eventually went off as the co-favorite at 9-5. When the gates opened, she veered inside and settled immediately to be one of the trailers. On the club house turn, she moved into a stalker's position about four lengths back in fifth place. Around the final turn, Royal Delta's jockey, Jose Lezcano, took the inside path and passed two horses. At the top of the stretch, Royal Delta passed morning line favorite Wyomia, ran down leader Hot Summer, and moved to a three-length lead. Approaching the wire, Buster's Ready made a rush at her, but Royal Delta held on to win by 2 1/2 lengths. That win earned her the lion's share of the $250,000 purse: $150,000, which moved her total earnings up to $219,000. After the race, Royal Delta was covered with a blanket of daisies, Black-Eyed Susans and pink ribbon.[1]

On July 23, 2011, Royal Delta ran third in the Coaching Club American Oaks. It's Tricky won by 3/4 of a length over Kentucky Oaks winner Plum Pretty. It was two lengths back to Royal Delta in the show spot. On August 20, 2011, Royal Delta scored a five and a half length victory in the $500,000 grade one Alabama Stakes, avenging her loss to Plum Pretty and It's Tricky from a month earlier. She finished the mile and a quarter race (10 furlongs) in 2:03.13 under jockey Jose Lezcano.

After the Alabama Stakes, rather than face her own division again, Royal Delta contested the Grade I Beldame Stakes at Belmont Park. There she faced eventual champion and American Horse of the Year Havre de Grace. After racing close to the lead, she held a clear second in the slop while proving no match for Havre de Grace, who drew off to win by 9 lengths.

On November 4, 2011, Royal Delta won the Breeders' Cup Ladies' Classic at Churchill Downs as the slight favorite over nine opponents. Rival It's Tricky held second over Pachattack. The performance cemented her status as the top sophomore filly in the country and earned her the Eclipse Award for American Champion Three-Year-Old Filly.

In late November, she was sold at the Keeneland auction for $8.5 million to Benjamin Leon's Besilu Stables. That price was, at the time, the third highest ever paid at auction for a racing or broodmare prospect, behind Ashado and Better Than Honour, who sold for $9 million and $14 million, respectively. Leon outdueled Adena Springs owner Frank Stronach and said afterwards that he would return Royal Delta to the races in 2012 at age four, and would keep her in the barn of trainer Bill Mott.

Four-year-old season[edit]

On February 25, 2012, Royal Delta placed second to Awesome Maria in the $100,000 Grade III Sabin Stakes at Gulfstream Park at a mile. It was announced that she would be pointed to the world's richest race, the $10,000,000 Dubai World Cup, the inaugural running of which trainer Bill Mott won in 1996 with the legendary Cigar. In that race, she was impeded and bumped near the start and then was hampered coming around the final turn and finished well back in ninth in the field of 14.

On June 16, 2012, Royal Delta was the highweight in the $150,000 Grade II Fleur de Lis Handicap at Churchill Downs and won impressively by 8 lengths. She beat Afleeting Lady and Kentucky Oaks runner-up St. John's River, who finished second and third respectively in the field of six. On July 21, 2012, Royal Delta won the $750,000 grade I, 1 1/4 mile Delaware Handicap at Delaware Park by a neck over Delaware Park specialist Tiz Miz Sue. She also avenged her loss earlier in the year to rival Awesome Maria, who finished six lengths back in third in the field of eight.

On August 26, 2012, Royal Delta competed in the $600,000 Grade 1 Personal Ensign Handicap at Saratoga. She faced rival It's Tricky once again, and both horses conceded considerable weight to the other 4 entrants in the field of six. Early in the race, Royal Delta stalked the pace set by Brushed by A Star and Love and Pride, and moved into contention to challenge for the lead entering the far turn. However, rounding the far turn into the stretch, Royal Delta swung very wide, dropped back to fourth in mid-stretch, and appeared to be languishing. In deep stretch, she regained momentum and commenced another rally, but she fell short, losing by a half-length to upset 10-1 winner Love and Pride.

On September 29, 2012, Royal Delta sparkled winning the grade I Beldame Stakes by 9 1/2 lengths over It's Tricky. She dueled with that rival until the head of the stretch, where she and jockey Mike Smith cruised by easily to crush the field and finish geared-down.

On Friday, November 2, 2012, she traveled to Santa Anita Park to defend her Breeders' Cup Ladies' Classic title. In a field of nine that included five Grade I winners and two undefeated champions (Awesome Feather and My Miss Aurelia), Royal Delta was made the slight favorite over undefeated Awesome Feather. As the gates opened, she had the best break of her career and took the lead. After fractions of 22.6 and 45.8, jockey Mike Smith slowed down Royal Delta a bit and nursed her one-length lead. At the eighth pole, Include Me Out and undefeated My Miss Aurelia made bids into the stretch to try to catch the leader, but Royal Delta repelled all challengers and maintained her lead to win by 1 1/2 lengths over a game My Miss Aurelia. She finished the 1-1/8 mile race in 1:48.80 on a fast track. For her accomplishments in 2012, she was awarded American Champion Older Female Horse at the American Eclipse Awards.

Five-Year-old Season[edit]

On February 17, 2013 Royal Delta made her 2013 debut in the $98,000 Grade III Sabin Stakes at Gulfstream Park as a prep for the Group I, $10,000,000 Dubai World Cup. In that race Royal Delta cruised to an easy five-length victory over her four opponents in the 1 1/16-mile timed in 1:43.31 on a fast main track. That day she beat a Grade 1 winner, Grace Hall.[2]

Her next race was the Dubai World Cup, the world's richest horse race, held on March 30, 2013. This was the second attempt for Royal Delta on a synthetic surface. In that race Royal Delta broke well in fourth and within a few strides went straight to the lead. She held that lead around the clubhouse turn and all the way down the backstretch. Going into the final turn she added a little distance between her and the field. Near the end of the turn 2011 Kentucky Derby winner Animal Kingdom came up to challenge her. At the top of the stretch she faded and fell from second to tenth in the field of twelve by the time they hit the wire. Animal Kingdom went on to win.[2]

She came back to place second in the Fleur de Lis Handicap in June at Churchill Downs, then won her second Delaware Handicap in July 2013. On August 25, 2013, she took the Personal Ensign Handicap. Throughout the entire 2013 season, she was ridden by Mike Smith, and in order to ride her in the Personal Ensign, he gave up an opportunity to ride Game On Dude in the Pacific Classic that was held the same day in California. That horse's trainer, Bob Baffert, was philosophical about losing his preferred jockey, "...with the Mike Smith situation I knew we might have that day, knew it would come. You know, there's always a woman involved, and it was her." (Game On Dude won the Classic anyway).[3]

In the 2013 Beldame Stakes, she was second to the 2013 Kentucky Oaks winner, Princess of Sylmar.[2] She was trained for her end-of-season goal, the Breeders' Cup Distaff, again held at Santa Anita Park, seeking her third straight win in that event. She started favorite, but finished fourth behind Beholder.

In January 2014, Royal Delta was again named Champion Older Female at the Eclipse Awards.[4]


Pedigree of Royal Delta[5]
Empire Maker

dark brown 2000


bay 1987

bay 1977
Mr. Prospector
Gana Facil
chestnut 1981
Le Fabuleux

dark brown 1989

El Gran Senor
bay 1981
Northern Dancer
Sex Appeal
Image of Reality
bay 1976
In Reality
Edee's Image
Delta Princess

dark brown 1999

A P Indy

dark brown 1989

Seattle Slew
brown 1974
Bold Reasoning
My Charmer
Weekend Surprise
bay 1980
Lassie Dear
Lyphard's Delta

dark brown 1990

bay 1969
Northern Dancer
Proud Delta
dark brown 1972
Delta Judge
Loving Sister


External links[edit]